Australia’s forthcoming contact tracing app will be fundamentally unique to Singapore’s TraceTogether, with improvements owning presently been produced to the latter’s functionality.

Acting well being department secretary Caroline Edwards told a senate inquiry into COVID-19 on Thursday that while the app is derived from TraceTogether, its code foundation will be special.

“I really don’t believe the Singapore TraceTogether app is the model,” she reported in reaction to questions from Labor senator Murray Watt, incorporating that it has been an “important contributor”.

“Singapore presented, brazenly, its code, and we have drawn on that code in building our very own app, which is Australian-dependent with our very own improvements.

“I comprehend we have drawn on the code and made use of it, but we have added and modified it so that it’s special for our instances.”

The admission goes some way to outlining why well being minister Greg Hunt walked back an earlier guarantee by the governing administration to release all of the app’s supply code.

“The initially factor we want to do is make certain that we’re guarding the protection and the privacy of people. Almost everything that can be introduced, will be, for certain,” he reported on Tuesday.

Bluetooth improvements

Like TraceTogether, Australia’s tracing app will use Bluetooth to establish when two men and women with the app installed appear in just 1-and-a-fifty percent metres of 1 a further for 15 minutes or extra.

It will do this by exchanging encrypted special identifiers that will be stored on an individual’s machine for a rolling period of 21 times.

These IDs would then only turn into out there to state and territory well being gurus if a particular person analyzed favourable to COVID-19 and consented to the release of the details.

“If [the IDs are] never wanted to be made use of, then they’ll sit there until we delete the app and not go wherever at all,” Edwards reported.

She reported the only details to be stored on what has earlier been described as a ‘national details store’ is the identify, cellphone amount, submit code and age selection of the particular person, which is needed when a particular person initially downloads the app. 

But Australia’s app, which is being produced by the Electronic Transformation Company, is predicted to establish on TraceTogether components, particularly close to Bluetooth on iPhones.

Edwards reported that the DTA app would not need to have to continually run in the foreground for contacts to be recorded, while he admitted Bluetooth would operate improved with the app open up.

“We’ve moved further than that. I’ve been assured the Bluetooth technology will operate,” she reported.

“Both [the Android and Iphone applications] are performing and improving upon, and performing improved than some of people problems that have been seasoned in Singapore.”

Edwards noted that considering the fact that TraceTogether was produced there had been Bluetooth improvements by Apple and Google.

“It’s not fantastic but it is very good, and Apple and Google are also performing on generating improvements more than time,” she reported.

Edwards also defended the governing administration choice to establish its very own app, as a substitute of ready for Google and Apple’s API.

“We’ve gone down the route of taking the [TraceTogether] supply code, performing with Apple and Google to make an app that satisfies our instances, and which is fully constrained to supplying the details through a national retail store in encrypted type back to state well being officials,” she reported.

“Not with other men and women, not in any other way, and so we have produced it to fit people instances to meet up with the privacy and well being wants of Australia.”


Even with remarks from governing administration expert services minister Stuart Robert this week, Edwards reported she was “not aware” of any official choice however to introduce legislation to govern the app.

She reported legislation was just 1 of a amount of alternatives at the moment being regarded by the governing administration “to guarantee [the app] satisfies the specifications of the policy”.

Other alternatives incorporate “policy constraints and governing administration decisions”, preparations with the states and territories close to the use of details and “potentially exercise under the biosecurity declaration”.

But in spite of what approach the governing administration decides on, Edwards reported “privacy and other issues will be dealt with before the app is launched”.